Living With Bad Knees
Whether it is you or someone you care about, almost everyone knows at least one person who has to live with bad knees. Chronic knee pain or repetitive knee injuries can quickly take a heavy toll on a person’s quality of life, which is why today’s post will focus on providing tips, tricks and insights for dealing with the daily struggles that often accompany knee pain.
Why Does Knee Pain Happen?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons for bad knees. Sometimes knee pain is a result of a sports injury, other times it is work-related. For many people, chronic knee pain is caused by some form of arthritis or a case of poor genetics. Orthopedic specialists say that the two most common causes of knee pain are arthritis or an improperly healed injury.
Because there are so many reasons for bad knees, there is not a universal fix for the problem. However, there are plenty of options for reducing pain and alleviating the symptoms. If the problem is serious enough, there are even joint replacement knee surgery options to consider.
Tips and Tricks For Improving Knee Pain
Exercise may be the last thing on your mind when it is painful to simply go about your day-to-day life, but the proper forms of exercise can actually greatly improve knee pain. To understand why this is the case, it will be helpful for you to understand a bit more about the anatomy of your knees.
There are three major bones and two major muscle groups that work together as your knee. The femur, which is your large, upper leg bone; the tibia, which is your shin bone and your patella, the triangular bone that you know as your kneecap. The two primary muscle groups that support your knee function are the hamstrings at the backs of your thighs and the quadriceps, or quads, which are the set of muscles on the front of your thigh. The hamstrings work to bend you knee, and the quads straighten your knee when it is bent.
Because so much of your knee movement is dependent on healthy bones and strong muscles, it should be more apparent now why exercise is such an integral part of minimizing knee pain. Orthopedic specialists typically recommend isometric exercises to help strengthen the muscles, because they are simple and low-stress. Before you begin an exercise regimen, however, you should speak with a doctor or physical therapist to be sure you are performing the appropriate exercises in the correct way.
2. Wear Supportive Shoes
This does not mean that you have to visit your local drugstore and purchase a pair of clunky orthopedic shoes like your grandmother wears. However, regularly wearing high heels or no cushioning can add to your knee pain considerably.
High heels in particular can greatly increase the amount of compression you are placing on your knee joints, and they can also cause your calf muscles to tighten up. When this happens, the arches of your feet are not able to evenly distribute weight and pressure, which means you end up putting even more stress on your ankles and knees.
If you wear flat shoes, invest in ones with memory foam support in the soles or spend a bit of extra money to get properly fitted for shoe inserts. The right inserts can correct your posture and provide support, which will go a long way in reducing stress on your knees.
3. Joint Replacement Knee Surgery
Surgery is often the last resort for anyone experiencing knee pain, but there are times when it is the best choice.
The bones and muscles that allow your knee to move freely are surrounded by a cushioning of cartilage to absorb the shock of movement. There is also a very thin lining that covers the surfaces of your knee, called the synovial membrane, and it is responsible for essentially lubricating everything in that area to keep friction and wear to a minimum. Age, injury or disease can all disrupt the cushioning and lubrication mechanisms, which is the root cause of knee pain.
In older people, the natural wear and tear on the joints causes the cartilage cushion to diminish. This allows the bones to rub together, causing pain and stiffness. Injuries can cause fragments of bone to damage the cartilage cushion, resulting in pain and limited range of motion. Finally, diseases like rheumatoid arthritis cause the synovial membrane to become swollen and thick, which causes the cartilage to wear away and the entire joint to become stiff and painful.
Knee Replacement Procedure
Many times, people who have knee problems that do not respond well to medications, rest or strengthening exercises are ideal candidates for joint replacement. Others who may benefit from this type of surgery include those with chronically severe or limiting knee pain. An orthopedic surgeon will do a thorough evaluation of your case before recommending surgery.
Knee replacement is sometimes referred to as “knee resurfacing,” because the procedure is only performed on the surfaces of the bones. In general, there are three main things to expect during a knee replacement:
1. Damage repair – The surgeon will remove the damaged cartilage and a small amount of bone from both your femur, the thigh bone, and the tibia, your shin bone. This is to prepare space for implants.
2. Implant positioning – Metal parts are fit into the places where cartilage was removed in order to recreate a healthy joint.
3. Spacer insertion – A medical-grade plastic spacer will be positioned between the new, metal components to mimic the gliding motion of a healthy knee.
The majority of people who undergo joint replacement experience a life-changing reduction in pain, so if you or someone you love has been living with bad knees, it may be time to explore surgical joint replacement. With proper care and weight management, knee replacements can last for upwards of 15 years.
Bad knees can put a serious damper on anybody’s quality of life, regardless of age or lifestyle. The tips and tricks found here may help some people, but others may benefit most from surgical knee replacement. Don’t hesitate to speak with a doctor or specialist about what options are right for you.